President Barack Obama’s proposal to send any American who wants to go to a 2-year school is getting rave reviews at Santa Monica Community College - where they have more students who transfer to 4-year universities than any other community college in the state.
Students said they were eager to hear the president’s announcement today about a plan that could make their lives easier: free community college.
"Because in America, a quality education should not be a privilege reserved for a few," President Obama said in front of a crowd at a Tennessee community college. "I think it's a right for everybody who is willing to work for it."
The President made the announcement in Tennessee, where this year they started offering free community college statewide.
If the nationwide plan is approved by Congress, it would allow free tuition to students of all ages with a C+ average who attend classes at least half time and are working toward a degree.
"Education is the equalizer for all of us," President Obama said. "That’s what we need."
Student Lina Lopez said starting her education at Santa Monica Community College is the first step toward her dream of one day becoming a lawyer.
"I was working two jobs for awhile trying to pay for books and supplies and ease the burden on my parents financially," Lopez said.
Under the plan, the federal government would pay 75 percent of the cost of community college tuition, with states picking up the rest.
The proposal was met with some criticism on social media, with tweets like this one: “Free college isn’t a gift from Obama. It comes out of the pocket of the taxpayer just like healthcare for all.”
And this one: "Doesn’t Obama realize that handing out free education depreciates the overall credential.. oh wait.. #socialism."
But Santa Monica College’s Academic Affairs director disagrees.
"In California, community college was free once upon a time," said Georgia Lorenz. "Then it was only $11 per unit and there was no diminishing of the power of community college education."
Single mom and community college student Gabrielle Shepard said free tuition would make all the difference for her family in the long run.
"I want my boys to have a good education and if its free," she said. "It’s better for them."